31st Annual International Yoga Festival begins

Fitness Health Uttarakhand


With the theme of “Vision 2020” the world-renowned Annual International Yoga Festival began early in the morning at Parmarth Niketan ashram  on March 1 with a renewed emphasis on Union, Unity and Love in these troubled times and a vibrant round of Yoga Asana classes that awakened hundreds of participants to the magnificent potential awaiting them during the coming week on the holy banks of Mother Ganga, as well as to the beauty of a late winter morning in the lap of the majestic Himalayas.

During the seven days of the Festival, participants will get over 150 classes, workshops, demonstrations, lectures, discourses and interactive sessions on topics ranging from Yoga Asanas (including Kundalini, Power Vinyasa, Iyengar and Hatha), Sound Healing, Ayurveda, Reiki, Meditation, Eastern Philosophy and Medicine and Homeopathy to Ancient Indian Philosophy and Vedanta, Human Empowerment and Motivation, Dance and Musical instruction, Trauma Release and Detoxification and Self- Realization from such globally-recognized experts as Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Rujuta Diwaker, Smita Naram, Kia Miller, Janet Attwood, Stewart Gilchrest, Anand Mehrotra, Anandra George, Joanna Faso, Sianna Sherman, and Katie B. Happyy.. In addition, song, dance and musical performances will give the flavor of the culture and heritage of India during the fest said the director of the festival.

The festival was officially inaugurated in the late afternoon by the Minister of Tourism, Government of India, Prahlad Singh together with Harak Singh Rawat, Minister of AYUSH for UttarakhandPrem Chand Aggarwal, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly along with Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, and dozens of world-renowned presenters, expert teachers and practitioners from twenty-five countries around the world to welcome the delegates from 56 nations to a week of enlightenment, upliftment and connection to themselves, each other and all of Creation.Tourism and Culture Minister of India Prahlad Singh Patel said that he has come from the banks of Narmada and was so glad to join participants from 56 nations who are spreading and sharing Yoga with the world. He added that India is a nation that shares the message of oneness and peace with the world. He encouraged the participants to take the energy and peace of the Himalayas to their countries and communities.  Speaker of Legislative Assembly of Uttarakhand, Shri Prem Chand Agarwalji shared, “Pujya Swamiji’s contributions to this State are so multifaceted with a great emphasis on the environment. Its beautiful to see the Festival growing year after year and I warmly welcome all of you to Uttarakhand – the land of Yoga.” He shared that he personally ensures every 21st of the month everyone in his Assembly practice Yoga.

Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan, said: “Yoga is all the way from the United Nations to the United Creations on the banks of Ganga! Come here not just to do Yoga but leave here with the art and practice of being Yoga. Be Yoga, Learn Yoga, Live Yoga, Love Yoga.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Director of the International Yoga Festival, said, “As we gather on the banks of the sacred Ganga in Rishikesh, the World Capital of Yoga, the land where the sages, saints and rishis have come for thousands of years to attain enlightenment, we remember that yoga is not only postures on a mat but yoga is who we are. Yoga is love, yoga is peace, yoga is togetherness. This is what the world needs today. Yoga is the answer to all that ails us from terrorism and war to environmental destruction to internal depression. Yoga is union – union with the Creator and union with the Creation. Through our yoga may we become vehicles of peace, love and union for the world.

The morning asana classes began with Vinyasa – Align Up with Your Highest Self Workshop: Clarity in Your Calling with Katie B. Happyy and Paula Tapia’s Therapeutic Yoga Flow, along with Sukshma Yoga with Ganga Nandini and Kia Miller’s amazing Awakening the Higher Qualities of the Heart practice. In addition, Anandra George led a Sunrise Nada Yoga class, with musical vibrations that elevated those on the ghat and anyone in hearing distance with their brilliant tones.

Anandra George, who has devoted her life to helping people feel the awesome power of love through sound and mantra, shared the philosophy of her beautiful practice: “Sound is the yoga of the subtle bodies. In yoga we talk about the physical body and the breath, but the yoga of sound stretches, harmonises, organises and makes the subtle bodies like the mind, emotions and soul come into health. I’m excited to share teachings around that with our amazing presenters all day everyday for 7 days!”

And Katie B. Happyy of the B Inspired, a self-empowerment company, informed about her process by sharing that “The latin root of the word “inhale” is to “inspira” – to inspire. We inhale (inspire) and exhale (expire) hundreds of thousands of times a day and rarely think about this automated biological response. Coming home to Ganga, to Parmarth, to IYF, is an opportunity for us to re-investigate why we were lucky enough for this inhale. We ask Ganga to tell us why we woke up today, and to be a beacon of hope for others in our search and example.”

After a light breakfast, Janet Atwood encouraged her students to undo their limiting beliefs, while Tommy Rosen offered paths for a breakthrough to the real selves of the capacity crowd in his long-awaited class. Dr. Indu Sharma, a dedicated teacher and practitioner at Parmarth for over 10 years, also led a traditional Hatha Yogasana, while Stewart Gilchrist offered remedies to remove the obstacles to yoga in our lifetimes and Dana Flynn conducted a vibrant and dynamic Soul Sweat class that left participants, well…soul-filled!

At 11am, this year’s Spiritual Lecture Series commenced with highly-motivational addresses by Dr. Bruce Lipton, Bharat Mitra, Prince Ea and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati exploring the universal truth that “We Are One!” Said Bruce Lipton about Yoga and Union: “What happens here at Parmarth Niketan is the harmony of love, consciousness andcommunity. What is Yoga? Unity. Union. Coming together. You are creating a union of consciousness. And what happens when we all come together in harmony? The more power that we wield. Each of you is a seed of evolution, and where are you getting your strength from? Yoga! It’s not just the body, it’s the Creation. I want to thank every one of you because when I come to this environment, to the International Yoga Festival, to Parmarth Niketan, I can feel the evolution. The energy is so strong I have good vibes.

Because your energy is harmonizing with the energy of love, peace and evolution. And, so I want to thank every one of you. Each one of you is a seed of evolution that can bring us back to the garden that we came into before separation. Union. Unity. Yoga. Thank you for participating in our world.”

Similarly, with almost a quarter-century of life filled with experiencing and sharing the divine principle of Vasudeva Kutumbakam, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati stated: “The illusion of separation that we talk about is something that all of us were raised into from early childhood, assuming you were raised by humans. Because the humans that raised each of us were humans that were interacting with their own karma and their own programming. And everything that we encounter reinforces that separation.”

Classes on the Importance of Detoxification in the Modern World with Dr. Alejandro Junger and Food Rules for a Sattvic Life with Rujuta Diwekar, while Maa Gyan Suveera offered insights into Cosmic Intelligence Plus (CI+) Meditation and Anand Mehrotra shared his wisdom about Cosmic Prana and Cosmic Self. And, Joseph Schmidlin bathed attendees with his beautiful Therapeutic Sound Bath.

Finally, after the official inauguration, with hearts full and minds opened, participants joined Anandra and the Sacred Sound Stage musicians and the Kirtaniyas for a jam session of ecstatic chants and Kirtan along the blessed waters of Maa Ganga, awaiting the exciting start of Day 2!

Special Highlights from this year’s festival include:

• Special visits of saints and spiritual leaders such as Swami Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Avdeshanand Giriji, Dr Pranav Pandyaji, MM Swami Asanganand amongst many others 

• The Divine Spiritual Lecture Series, featuring an august body of spiritual and wellness masters and advisers from around the world such as Mooji, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Rev Michael Beckwith, Prince EA, Dr. Alejandro Junger, Gaur Gopal Dasji, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Tommy Rosen amongst many others.

• Evening Inspirational Musical & Cultural Performances by world-renowned Sufi Singer, Kailash Kher (6th March); Ecstatic Rhythm and Soul percussionist A Sivamani with Runa Rizvi (4th March); Ecstatic Kirtan with the Kirtaniyas and Love Keys (1st March); Ecstatic Chant Jam Sessions with the Sacred Sound Stage musicians (2nd March); Folk Dances and Cultural Extravaganza by Gujarat’s Nityavali (3rd March), a Hafla Music Night with Gil Ron Shama (5th March) as well as so much more.

• A very special performance by The Bluegrass Journeymen an evening of Jazz in partnership with the US Embassy on the holy banks of Mother Ganga on the 4th March just before the world-renowned Ganga Aarti Ceremony

• Concluding Cultural Union of the World: An Evening of Cultural Song, Dance and Theatre Performances by Parmarth Rishikumars, Sufi Dancing with Mert Güler, and IYF Participants from Around the World.


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